I remember as a child groaning when my alarm clock rang at 7:00am and I had to get ready for school. Now fast forward twenty years, and I still groan when the alarm clock rings at 5:30am, and I have to get ready for school. Roles have changed though as I stand in front of the class rather than sit facing the blackboard.
I know there are many students on this board. As a full-time professional certified public school teacher, I have many of the same anxieties you all have. You have homework; I have lesson plans; you have exams; I have evaluations. Yet, one of the best thing about the job is that I am in an environment where purportedly ‘learning’ is held as the highest virtue.
I taught from 8:40am until 5:00pm with only lunch and a brief 40 minute prep period to grade papers, and clean my room. I took the subway from the Bronx back to the upper-east-side, and proceeded to Barnes and Nobles. I ordered a cup of coffee, and in a sense, did my homework (lesson planned) for tomorrow. We are doing a unit on fractions now. I use a progressive new-math approach using manipulatives to help students construct understanding of fractions. I put a good deal of thought into my lessons. It is now 7:09pm, and I think I will head over to Hunter College to practice for two hours before picking up a burger to eat before crashing. Then it begins again tomorrow. Who says the life of a teacher is easy? Cheers!
Yawwwn. I woke early, and the first thing I did was turn on my computer to see how many people responded to my first significant post! I'm going to get ready, and walk over to Hunter College, a local school in Manhattan, and practice in one of their practice rooms. I like practicing there because each practice room has a piano. I go stir crazy if I stay in my apartment all day practicing. I enjoy the 20 block walk to the school. I may even stop off and grab a cup of coffee. There are a multitude of coffee shops around the school. So for the next few hours it is going to be me Wohlfahrt and Mr. Suzuki!
I have been reading everyone’s bogs in this space for about a year now. I have learned a lot, and also enjoyed the varied personalities on this board. My name is John Chew, and I live in New York City where I teach fourth grade at a public school in the Bronx. I was previously an accountant at one of the Big 5 public accounting firms after studying accounting in graduate school. I pursued a liberal arts undergraduate degree. I switched to teaching through a program call the Teaching Fellows program which actively recruits individuals who might have done other things with their lives but later choose to teach at the neediest schools in the city. I have always love teaching after an experience teaching English in Japan.
One of benefits of teaching (I thought) would be greater leisure time to pursue hobbies that could inform my teaching. I have always wanted to study the violin, and took the plunge a year and a half ago. I started with group lessons and finished Suzuki Book 1. I recently switched teachers. My new teacher is a recent Peabody and Manhattan School of Music graduate. In only a few lessons, he has helped me tremendously with my technique – bowing, intonation, etc. My new teacher is focusing on teaching me technique via the Wohlfahrt studies, and more secondarily the Suzuki pieces. I am happy to go through the Suzuki books, although as an adult I realize I am studying the violin through a more traditional approach although I am going through the Suzuki repertoire. I am looking forward to Suzuki Book 4 where I will have the opportunity to learn the concertos by Seitz, Vivaldi and Bach (double violin concerto!). I can hardly wait. I am curious about the Galamian approach to teaching violin.
I bought my violin through a company call Stringworks. I purchased a Kallo Bartok from Stringworks, and a pernambuco bow call the Johan Karusch Select from Stringworks which I am happy with. I prefer a wood bow, but my next bow will probably be the Coda Classic. I have done the research, and it seems most violinists in my class facing similar budgetary constraints find the Coda bows adequate for their needs.
Someday, I hope to audition for a community orchestra. Maybe after Suzuki Book 5, and Wohlfahrt’s 60 studies, Dont etudes, I will be ready.
I think about the violin a great deal. Even when I am walking the streets of Manhattan, or on the subway to school, I think about my pieces, and lately bowing.
I am enjoying this all encompassing hobby. Look forward to getting to know everyone on the board.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.